Category: Ask a Yogi

Ask a Yogi: Understanding the Spine

Geek out on anatomy with this brief overview on your spine. We’ll discuss the parts of the spine, how they interact, and what causes back abnormalities.

How does the spine move?

The spinal vertebra form facet joints, and just like any other joint in the body, we must put an appropriate amount of stress on them to promote strength and range of motion. The facet joints are a type of synovial joint, a capsule formed by fascia, tendons, and ligaments. The joint contains glycosaminoglycans, one of which is a called hyluronic acid. Once the joint is stimulated by movement, it releases hyluronic acid that hydrates our tissues, including the tissues around the spine.

When we manipulate the spine, the intervertebral discs also receive pressure and stress. The disks are made of a particular type of cartilage. It accounts for 25% of the length of the spine!

The outside of the disc is a stronger fibrous substance, while the inside is more of a jelly-like substance. As the spine receives pressure from our twists, the gel moves inside the more fibrous outer disc and redistributes itself to absorb the impact of the pressure. While a person ages, the inner gel loses moisture and the spinal discs become more rigid and less resilient.

Twisting, bending, and strengthening of the back may provide an appropriate amount of stress for the back. It encourages healthy facet joints and discs to relieve pressure on the spine.

What causes curvatures of the spine?

The curvatures of the spine typically seen with lordosis and kyphosis are caused by the shape of the vertebrae. Scoliosis is idiopathic (no defined cause). Thinning of the vertebrae often cause the shape to change. In my opinion, the best thing you can do to buffer back problems is performing plenty of weight bearing exercise and stretching. Personally, it helped me overcome a lot of back pain from scoliosis.

 

 

 

 

Resources

Healthline Media, 2015

Clark, 2016

Ask a Yogi: What does ‘yoga’ mean?

When you hear the word “yoga” does your stomach shudder with discomfort? 
Do you imagine a dim room of candles with everyone dressed like hippies promoting the healing powers of crystals?
Does a chakra meditation sound a little too woo woo for you?

Yoga has been translated from the sanskrit root word yuj which means to contemplate. Yuj has also been translated to the English root word yoke, which means to join or unite.

Continue reading “Ask a Yogi: What does ‘yoga’ mean?”

Ask a Yogi: Can I Lose Weight Doing Yoga?

With New Years approaching and new health goals on the horizon, I feel obliged to answer this question.

Short answer: Yoga’s not going to help you lose weight in isolation.

However… it may be a great tool to supplement a balanced diet and adequate exercise.

Regardless, we will see newcomers to the yoga studio this month hoping to shed pounds the “easy” way by taking yoga classes. 😉

I’ll tell you a little story of said student and offer ways yoga may be the perfect addition to your weight loss plan. Continue reading “Ask a Yogi: Can I Lose Weight Doing Yoga?”

Ask a Yogi: How can I improve my balance?

Balance poses are challenging because they require muscular stability and body awareness.

Balance poses require you to stay present and out of your headspace.

Whether your trying to stay centered in tree pose or walking down the street, your body is constantly adjusting to keep you stabilized. Continue reading “Ask a Yogi: How can I improve my balance?”

Ask a Yogi: What are the best poses for a quick stretch?

When yoga students ask me what they should do for a quick stretch, I’m often hesitant to give them a straight answer unless I know them well enough. Sometimes, I’ll tell them some of my go-to poses that target general weak spots for most people like anjaneyasana or gomukasana… Continue reading “Ask a Yogi: What are the best poses for a quick stretch?”